Whanganui teenager Bradley McDowell has his sights firmly on world titles after claiming back-to-back open New Zealand Cowboy Action Shooting titles at the nationals in Ashburton at the weekend.
The reigning world junior cowboy champion, ranked seventh in the world in the open section, also claimed the New Zealand Champion Cowboy title in Ashburton. He won the same titles on home turf last season when the nationals were hosted by the Wanganui Pistol Club.
The straight shooting 17-year-old Year 12 Whanganui High School student was on fire in Ashburton, beating world ranked No4 open division sharpshooter Jacob Finlayson from Invercargill by a clear 20 seconds despite several fumbles himself. Finlayson goes by the name of Lightning Jack.
Cowboy action shooting involves shooting a series of metal plate targets with three types of guns; a rifle, a pistol and a shotgun, in a memorised sequence. The goal is to complete the sequence as quickly possible. Missed targets incur costly time penalties.
McDowell had the drop on his rivals to claim the World Junior Champion Cowboy Action Shooting title in New Mexico, US early this year, where the then 16-year-old gunslinger also finished seventh in the open division, just 10 seconds off the overall winner.
The top 10 open grade cowboys in the world are only separated by about a 10th of a second.
McDowell can draw, shoot off five rounds at targets from his 357 magnum pistol, reholster and then do the same with his second pistol in four seconds flat. He is just as quick with his Uberti rifle, which is a copy of a Winchester lever action repeater rifle. McDowell, known as Rooster, can aim and fire 10 shots in 1.84 seconds.
"I beat the world No4 by a fair way in Ashburton and probably would have beaten him by more if I hadn't fumbled a few times myself," McDowell said.
"I am keen to become world open champion some day and will go back to Founders Ranch in New Mexico for another crack in two years. In the meantime I will prepare for that back home. The nationals were hosted by my club here last year and return to the Wanganui Pistol Club again next year.
"I am out of the junior ranks now and compete in the open cowboy division for 17 to 30-year-olds, so up against all comers."
McDowell is sponsored by Whanganui-based Belmont Precision Ammunition and Marton Wholesale Liquor, but is open to more sponsors joining the team.
"Ammunition is very expensive and we go through a fair bit even in training let alone in competition," McDowell said.